The Act of Online Trolling and Cyberbullying on The Youth in Essay

Background of the study

The exponential growth of modern technologies, allows people to innovate new ways to interact and communicate with one another. Modern technology has created new technological tools particularly, electronic and computer-based communication technology such as smartphones and internet. These technological tools have become the essential part in today’s society, especially among the young people. With the youth growing in this digital age, electronic communication technologies are seen as crucial and as well as important to fulfill the youth social needs such as, utilization of instant messaging and access through social networking sites.

According to Mishna et al. (2010), there is no boundaries in offering the youth opportunities to socialize and interact with other people in the digital world.

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Although, there are also negative consequences for the use of electronic communication technology, one of the negative consequences is known as cyberbullying. The term cyberbullying comes from traditional bullying where the perpetrator intended to cause physical harassment and harming the victim (Beran & Li, 2005).

However, the difference between traditional bullying and cyberbullying is the medium use by the perpetrator, in this case, electronic communication devices. There are many ways to describe the term cyberbullying, one of which, according to Smith et al. (2008), cyberbullying can be described as the deliberate act, conducted by one person or a group, by utilizing electronic forms of contact, to verbally harassed and discomfort the victim. Moreover, with the emergence of inexpensive technology and the rise use of electronic devices among the youth, the existence of cyberbullying has contributed to the problematic impact, faced by digital user in the cyberspace. There are many different types of cyberbullying that can be carried out by an individual, among the frequent one is online trolling.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or other social networking sites, enabled individuals to express their own opinions, whether others accept or disagree, or just to negate and invalidate one’s opinions. According to Buckles et al. (2014), online trolling is described as the behavior of disrupting the social setting in the cyberspace with the intended purpose to provoke and enraging digital users. The term online trolling originated from the word ‘troll’, which is one of the methods of fishing, whereby the person drags the fishing line baited with lures, towards the back of the boat (Buckles et al., 2014). Despite the fact, there has been little research of online trolling, part of the reasons may be, the topic is particularly new, however, trolls may create unfavourable consequences on to the victim as much as cyberbullying. The perpetrator may not exactly do physical harm on to the victim, yet the impact may lead towards the psychological characteristics, such as emotional distress and self-harm or maybe contemplate to suicide. Hardaker (2010) had analysed online forum discussion and established four main elements that formulates online trolling which are, aggression, deception, disruption and success. The elements that make up online trolling distinguish from the rest of detrimental online act, specifically cyberbullying. Nevertheless, online trolling and cyberbullying have similar goal, is to spread negative and emotional influence, deliberately by taunting, provoking and threatening the victim.

Aims and Objective

Cyberbullying and online trolling has deemed to be dangerous form of traditional bullying. With nowadays, people have spent more time online than ever was before. Also, each time an individual enters the social media platforms, there is high chance of encountering online trolls, roaming in the cyberspace, bringing along with their unpleasant statements. Moreover, the devastating effects of cyberbullying, may cause the victim feel isolated and locked away from the society. Additionally, latest statistics obtained from the Royal Brunei Police Force have shown, 300 cases were reported as cyberbullying in 2012 and, another 182 cases of cyberbullying in the first half of 2013 (Kamit, 2016). This indicates that the issue of cyberbullying has grown faster as modern technology are currently developing especially in the past few decades, which also brought cyberbullying to become a worrying trend in Brunei Darussalam. Thus, the aims of this study are to provide the important outlooks by defining online trolls, the problems associated with online trolls, and how online trolling is view as cyberbullying. On the other hand, the objective of this study is to find out the view of online trolling and cyberbullying among the youth in Brunei Darussalam.

Literature Review

For the literature of cyberbullying, the existence of electronic communication devices coupled by the accessibility of the Internet, has allowed youth to be more socialize and interactive with other people. As a matter of fact, there is high chance for the youth to encountered by various types of cyberbullying. There are many different ways to define cyberbullying, but generally cyberbullying is defined as the use of electronic forms of contact such as email, smartphone and instant messaging, by an individual or a group, to deliberately harm the victim. Furthermore, the increase use of electronic devices or communication technologies among the youth, has made them to be vulnerable to interpersonal violence, social aggression, mistreatment and harassment (Hinduja & Patchin, 2008). Moreover, according to Domino (2014), cyberbullying can take place and happen any time, despite of the age and the place of the event occur.

The earliest studies about cyberbullying is conducted by Finkelhor et al. (2000) to identify media use by 1,501 youth samples such as e-mails and instant messaging, at the University of New Hampshire in United States of America. Popular media platforms such as WhatsApp, makes cyberbullying possible and at the same time, can be carried out by not just one individual but rather a group to harassed the victim. Willard (2007) believed that, one of the main reason cyberbullying claimed to be dangerous than traditional bullying is because cyberbullying has the potential of creating more menacing yet, threatening situation compare to traditional bullying. Moreover, with the easy access of internet through communication devices such as smartphones and computer, chances of cyberbullying to occur is unpredictable. One of local studies conducted was about the social media use among teenagers in Brunei Darussalam, thus the findings revealed that cyberbullying is included in the social media related behaviors (Abdullah & Chan, 2016). The social media is use to send offensive messages, spread fake rumors and gossips, as well as name-calling (Abdullah & Chan, 2016). Despite the countless relevant studies and academic research regarding bullying, more studies have yet to be done in order to understand the specific problems of cyberbullying face by the youth.

Online trolling has gained its notoriety in the past few years due to an increased of reports on the media regards to online trolling. Hopkinson (2013) explains that online trolling is a behavior whereby, the user attempts to provoke and disturb communication between online users in the discussion forum, turning away the discussion from the original topic. Although, there are not many sufficient studies conducted about online trolling and other studies has also pointed this as well. Anonymity and ‘false name’ play an important role for online trolls within the digital world. Kollock et al. (1999) explains that anonymity is the state of the individual personal identity of being unknown to the public whereas the ‘false name’ represents the personality, in other words, an alternate identity which is separate from legal identity. The ability to be anonymous to bully others is significantly to be worse than cyberbullying and traditional bullying, and may be categorized as an extreme form of bullying. This has been confirmed by several previous studies, one of which Li et al. (2012) examine anonymous forms of bullying are more severe and cause more negative emotions.

According to Binns (2012), the act of online trolling cause both the perpetrator and the victim to face serious consequences which may affect not only in their online spaces, but might as well as their daily life. However, Nicol (2012) had just simply state the reason why trolling occurs, which is because someone is deliberately discomfort and wanted to cause disturbance to the person online. Although, certain times behavior of online trolling can be regarded as not serious or not harmful depending on the motive whether the intention is fun or for own amusement especially in online gaming. In addition, Rivers, Chesney and Coyne (2011), describe online trolls as someone who attempts to harass other gamers. Nevertheless, the objective of online trolls is purposely to disrupt an online discussion and post outrageous statements to entice others in a negative way (McQuade III et al., 2009).

Youth today are becoming more immerse in the digital social world with the presence of mobile communication technology that permits direct access on media platforms. Furthermore, literature review concluded that there are many studies about cyberbullying and online trolling however, it is not sufficiently studied enough within the social sciences field. Although, the desire of online troll and cyber bully are similar to one another, online trolling and cyberbullying aims to cause emotional distress to the victim.


For the methodological approach of this research, survey is used to collect primary data from the subjects. The survey is divided into two parts, questionnaire and focus group. Thus, combination of both of these methods is also known as mixed methods research whereby, data collected will have at least one qualitative and quantitative data (Bryman, 2009). The questionnaire and focus group will be focusing on youth ages between 19 to 25 years old. Although, according to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Brunei (2002), youth age in Brunei is between 15 to 40 years old. The application of questionnaire and focus group, objectively is to receive and obtain information from the subject. In addition, questionnaire is well known for its inexpensive and low costs procedures to produce results, and as well as convenient for people to participate (May, 2001). Kitzinger (2005) stated that, the best way to study and investigate the experiences, stories and opinions of the subject is by focus group. In which, focus group will have face-to-face interviews, with the purpose to find out and observe respondent’s perception on the concept of online trolling and cyberbullying.

i) Data Collection

The questionnaire will be involving undergraduate students that are currently studying in University of Brunei Darussalam as candidate of this research. In which, students are selected by convenience sampling, and ideally to have equal number of male and female students, ages between 19 to 25 years old. The questions will consist the combination of open and close ended questions, which will have a total of 9 questions. The reason is because to allow both qualitative and quantitative data to be collected later on (Druckman, 2005). Although, limitation also plays a role in collecting data through questionnaire. Primarily, the understandings and amount of experiences by the respondent regarding online trolling and cyberbullying may not be suffice to define the whole youth population in Brunei. Secondly, different ages may have different perceptions on the topic and questionnaire is mostly relies on close-ended questions which could affect the data in terms of qualitative data.

As for focus group, before the interviewing session begins, the moderator will request permission to allow the session to be recorded using a smartphone or digital recorder. The session will last within 10 to 20 minutes depending on the questions ask by the moderator to the respondents which also include a quick introduction by the moderator. The audio recorded will then be analyse to review the important points and as well as opinions delivered by the respondents. A total of 7 questions will be ask to the focus group: (1) Have you heard of cyberbullying? (2) What can you describe about cyberbullying? (3) How about online trolling? have you heard of online trolling? (4) What comes to your mind when you heard the word online trolling? (5) Do you think cyberbullying and online trolling are different? (6) What would you do if you get cyberbullied and trolled online? (7) Have you experienced cyberbullied or trolled online before? Is it okay for others to have the experiences too?

Although, there are strength and weakness when it comes to focus group. Similar to questionnaire, limitation also involve and to consider when using focus group to obtain data. Arranging the time of having the respondents together can be challenging for the focus group. Moreover, possibility of participants not to disclose their personal experiences and understandings regarding online trolling and cyberbullying is very high. Furthermore, chances of participants wanting to have interview sessions is unlikely and participants may feel to quit from participating.

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